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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Accredited Examination Centre for CILS

COVID-19 UPDATE: JUNE 2020 CILS EXAMINATION SESSION CANCELLED

Due to COVID-19, Durham University is suspending all face-to-face teaching and examination activities until 3 July 2020. The June 2020 CILS examination session at Durham has therefore been been cancelled. All registered candidates have been contacted.

At Durham we are unable to reschedule the examinations due to the academic calendar and the obligations we have in our core role as a University. Please note however that The Università per Stranieri di Siena has not itself cancelled the June 2020 examinations at this stage. You may therefore be able to sit an examination this June at another centre. We cannot however provide any advice as to possible alternatives due to the present situation nationally and internationally.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused, and thank you for your patience at this challenging time. If you would like to be added to a contact list and notified when the examinations are next available at Durham, please contact languages.forall@durham.ac.uk


Durham University is an accredited centre for the CILS examinations.

The CILS Exam (Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera, Certification of Italian as a Foreign Language) is a proficiency examination to prove competence in the Italian language. The CILS certificates are official recognitions of the attained level of linguistic competence of Italian as a foreign language. As a certificate of proficiency, the exam can be taken at every level of competence, from Beginners to Advanced.

The Università per Stranieri di Siena is responsible for the exam papers, has established the competences standards in accordance to the European Framework for languages, and sets the dates of examination.

Further information

Students or staff at Durham University are asked to register with their university email address.

For any questions, please contact Mark Critchley.

Mark Critchley Director, Centre for Foreign Language Study School of Modern Languages & Cultures Elvet Riverside New Elvet Durham DH1 3JT

How does CILS work?

For each level the CILS exams consists of five parts:

  • Listening test
  • Reading comprehension
  • Use of the Italian language
  • Written test
  • Speaking test

Levels - Common European Framework

Each CILS level denotes an ability to communicate which may be used in different contexts and situations.

The Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera covers six levels: Level A1, Level A2, Level ONE-B1, Level TWO-B2, Level THREE-C1 and Level FOUR-C2. Each of these represents a progressively higher level of linguistic - grammar, syntax, vocabulary - and communicative ability.

The examinations are aligned to the common reference levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

Why the CILS

  • CILS Certifications are internationally recognized.
  • The CILS is awarded by the University of Siena for Foreigners and is recognized by the Italian State as a certification of proficiency in Italian as a foreign language.
  • The CILS certificate is recognized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the document entitled "Coordinated system of Certificates of Italian for Foreigners", Rome 1998.
  • The CILS is used by employers in Italy to select foreign candidates who wish to undertake activities in relation with Italian institutions for professional purposes.
  • Most Italian universities adopt the CILS Certificates as an entrance requirement for prospective students, Erasmus students, and year-abroad students.
  • The CILS is very useful to those who study Italian, who are planning to or already work and study within an Italian context.
  • The CILS is a certified measurement of attained level of ability in Italian.

For further info visit Siena University for Foreigners (CILS)

Who can take the exam?

All learners of Italian as a foreign language, Italian citizens residing abroad (descendants of Italian emigrants), foreign citizens, and foreign immigrants in Italy may request to take the CILS exam. There are no age limits. Applicants are not obliged to possess previous educational certificates or degrees.

For Intermediate and above students it is not necessary to have passed lower levels of the CILS exams in order to attempt the attainment of higher levels. Candidate can prepare individually to sit the CILS exams, and we do not offer CILS preparation courses at Durham.